Microsoft claims it is still on track to deliver the Longhorn next generation of the Windows operating system during the second quarter of 2006 despite knock-on delays from XP Service Pack 2, and has dismissed Apple’s claims of the iPod "halo effect" denting the PC market.
While Microsoft execs have declared the OS is due out before mid 2006, the catalogue of delays that held up XP SP2’s release have provoked a degree of scepticism about the roadmap among users.
But Cynthia Crossley, head of Windows client at Microsoft UK, said the Redmond behemoth’s hardware partners are cracking the whip to keep the company on the straight and narrow timeline, with the box-shifters demanding the OS be ready for the consumer spending that accompanies the September start of term and Christmas.
The first beta will be available in summer 2005, with a second beta scheduled to be released in autumn. The final complete release should be in out in the second quarter of 2006.
However, the development process was already delayed when security developers were pulled off working on Longhorn to contribute to XP SP2.
"It’s the internal culture – anything to do with security, we get it out the door as soon as possible. The more pain the customer feels, the worse it is for us," Crossley told silicon.com. It’s a rationale that Microsoft has already put into effect when it recently announced the news that IE7 will debut before Longhorn.
While Microsoft is keeping quiet on what’s in the box, Crossley said the three of the main pillars of the next-gen OS will be mobility, application compatibility and security.
With Apple’s own next gen OS, Tiger, widely expected to debut this month – almost a year before Longhorn’s scheduled release – Apple execs have hinted they expect to be copycatted by Redmond rival.
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Mac OS 10.0 was released a full 8 months before Windows XP in 2001 and it did not make an impact. So Apple having a head start now with 10.4 really does not make a difference, even with the I-Pod cult and attractive hardware such as the I-Mac G5 and Mac Mini. After 5 years Apple has not made a noteworthy impact with the platform, 15 million users cannot compare to Windows XP’s 350 million user, not to mention the unregistered installations around the world. Windows users have invested so much in the platform already, the reasons for looking at switching to OS X now would seem like an unwanted burden. Trust me, history will repeat itself again with Windows Longhorn.